By Shari Narine
Sweetgrass Contributing Editor
November 16, 2016.
In many ways, Metis settlements are a fulfilment of the work begun by Metis leader Louis Riel, said Howard Shaw, vice-chair of the Metis Settlement General Counsel.
“We have land and our own governance,” he said, of the eight settlements that were created in northern Alberta with the MSGC established in the 1990 Metis Settlement Accord.
Shaw was joined by Indigenous Affairs Minister Richard Feehan and other government and Metis officials, in the Alberta Legislature in a ceremony to mark Wednesday as Louis Riel Day. On Nov. 16, 1885, Riel was hanged for treason.
Today, Riel is recognized for the work he did in shaping Canada. For the first time ever, the Metis flag was raised on Parliament Hill “as a symbol of our commitment to reconciliation with the Métis Nation,” said federal Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett.
The raising of the flag in Ottawa, said Metis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras, is just one more indication of a changing and improving relationship between the Metis Nation and the different levels of government.
Poitras noted that frameworks were being negotiated with both the provincial and federal governments that will move a nation-to-nation relationship forward.
“These are all positive steps in the right direction,” she said.
Feehan said that Riel lived in a “pivotal moment in our country’s history.”
“Canada is no longer in its infancy, but we are still in a pivotal moment in our history,” he said noting court rulings and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Feehan said his government remained committed to working with the Metis people.
“As we move forward, we need to honour the vision of Riel and work together to create a more just society that respects the rights and hopes of Metis people,” he said.
Tonight the High Level Bridge will be lit in blue and white lights.
On Monday, the cities of Calgary and Edmonton raised MNA flags at their respective city halls.
Metis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras commemorated Louis Riel at the Alberta Legislature. (Photo: Shari Narine)